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Simple Bolognese

An absolute classic and perfect for batch-cooking, this bolognese can be ready within 30 minutes, or left to gently simmer away for up to 3 hours for a richer, deeper flavour. Pancetta adds a smokey flavour for a really simple recipe with a thick, velvety sauce that clings to pasta - no watery puddles left here. See notes below one tips, other ways to use this bolognese or how to bulk it out with vegetables.

Time to make : from 30 minutes - 3 hours

Servings : 6


2 tbsp olive oil

150g pancetta, diced

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 onion, diced

2 bay leaves

800g beef mince

125ml wine (red or white, see notes)

4 tbsp tomato purée

1 beef stock gel/cube

2 x 400g chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp sugar (any, I use brown)

1 tbsp Worcestershires sauce

Salt & pepper, to season


  1. Place a large, deep bottomed saucepan over a medium - high heat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced pancetta and cook for 4 - 5 minutes until it just begins to cook. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat for 8 - 10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent

  2. Add in the mince and use a wooden spoon to break it up, cooking through until all the meat has browned and is no longer pink. Continue to cook until any excess water has boiled off, then add in the wine and cook for a few more minutes until it's mostly evaporated

  3. Add in the tomato purée and crumble in the beef stock/gel cube. Pour in the two tinned tomatoes and fill one tin up with water, add this in too (~400ml). Add in the Worcestershires sauce, sugar and a pinch of salt - then give everything a good stir, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, with the lid off

  4. Let the bolognese cook for at least 20 minutes if you're pushed for time, and up to 3 hours for a rich, deep flavour and thicker sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning (see notes below*) as necessary

  5. To serve with pasta, boil the pasta according to packet instructions and then drain, reserving a few tbsps of the starchy pasta water. Mix the bolognese in with the pasta (rather than serving by piling the sauce on top), this will help the sauce cling to the pasta - avoiding any watery puddles after. Serve with parmesan, freshly torn basil and a simple rocket and parmesan salad

Nutritional Information

(per serving)

490 calories

50g protein, 16g carbs, 23g fat

Good to know:

  • To add in vegetables, you can finally dice carrots, celery, mushrooms etc. and add them in between stages 2 - 3. Sauté them for a few minutes until they begin to soften and then add in the beef - they'll continue to cook throughout

  • You don't need to add wine if you don't like, but if you do, use one you'd be happy to drink by itself. Traditionally, Italian bolognese uses a dry white wine, or red wine if the bolognese is going to be kept for a few days as the flavours continue to develop

  • The sugar helps cut through the bitterness that tinned tomatoes can bring. I prefer using brown here, but any is fine (or use maple syrup)

  • Taste for seasoning at the end, I find that tomato based dishes always need more seasoning than usual

  • Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Use as a base for cottage pie, pasta bakes, lasagne, in tacos, piled onto nachos, on a jacket potato, stuffed peppers or even within a toastie (trust me)


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